Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Published in Forsyth Woman Magazine November Edition:)
I am a strong woman. I’m not conceited, nor full of myself. I’m just stating the facts. I can lift heavy things, and pride myself in my super hero feats. Yet, I am struck by how much people assume that just because you are strong and muscular insinuates you’re a bad-ass. I’m actually far from it. I’ve never been in a bar fight or hair pulling cat brawl but, if you must know I’ve come close to it. A girl once accused me of pushing her at a party therefore inducing whiplash! I laugh when people ask me if I can beat someone up for them. Why would I do that? I’d be more likely to have a pushup contest or arm wrestling challenge then beat someone to a pulp. But looking tough does have its perks. No one will mess with you.
So it was no surprise that eventually I would channel some of this strength into an event. I decided at the ripe age of 27 to train for my first power-lifting meet. I met up with my record holding coach affectionately known as “The OX” with a little bit of nervous excitement at my upcoming challenge. Looks and names can be deceiving as he, along with the other power-lifting family took me under their wing to teach me not only how to bench, squat, and dead lift but to also find my inner strength to leave an unhappy marriage. The latter, they didn’t realize they were influencing.
So from the moment I stepped into the industrial park cement haven of chains and member built exercise apparatus’s I felt a since of belonging. I left my personal relationship woes at the door and instead my focus was on programming my body to handle heavy loads of steel. “The Iron”as referred to by author Henry Rollins really did become my friend. Rollins stated it perfectly; “The Iron is the great reference point, the all-knowing perspective giver. Always there like a beacon in the pitch black. I have found the Iron to be my greatest friend. It never freaks out on me, never runs. Friends may come and go. But two hundred pounds is always two hundred pounds.” It is ironic how an inanimate object can satisfy an emotional loss. It was a comfort I did not expect to find.
I learned to squat on a low box, petrified at first to drop my body below the parallel mark. How could these legs of mine support so much weight? But fear itself I realized, was the only thing stopping me. My body was beyond capable it was my mind that needed some work. I used my short, small hands to grip a loaded 250 lb. bar with my thumb and forefinger referred to as a “hook grip” and hoisted it off the ground in one smooth move. I bench pressed more than my own body weight and with each lift, each “rack it” command my coach yelled, I gathered my will and prepared my heart to break free of my crumbling marriage.
Over the course of nine months I built a solid foundation and understanding of power-lifting. I utilized chains, sleds, tires, wood boards and grew excited at my new style of training. Power-lifting protocol leaked over into my own personal training business, as I taught my clients unconventional exercises to empower their own workout routines. With my first meet approaching, I continued to deal with my relationship changes. The ink on my legal separation papers had dried, a new apartment furnished my single freedom, and I took it all in with a deep breath. I was ready to propel like a rocket into the unknown, fueled by a fire that wouldn’t die anytime soon.
Meet day was here. I pulled on my wrestler style black singlet, my new sparkly converse All Star sneakers, and excitedly weighed in and mentally prepared myself to lift. My good friend refers to me as “the power-lifting princess” because of my innocent blond haired, blue eyed look. I am very girly but once you get me around the weights I unleash this alter ego.
The meet itself can take all day because you have three different lifts with three attempts at each lift. I was on an adrenaline high. My coach had to continually remind me to sit down to conserve my energy. I had my friends and clients there to support me and was riding a surge of electricity describable only to those who’ve competed in this sport.
I warmed up as my coach chalked my legs and back to prepare me for my lifts. I walked out to my squat bar with my favorite song “Number One” pounding in my ears. The cool metal on my back was exhilarating. I made each lift and totaled 680lbs for my first meet. I heard my cheering section shouting my name but most importantly I heard my own voice loud and clear. “You did this, you ARE strong. Nothing in life can hold you back. Power-lifting injected a drive nothing else had ever done before.
Kimberly Coronel is the creator & owner of “Strong Girl Fitness Personal Training LLC”
“Unconventional Training for Fit, Fierce, Females” is her mantra and she thoroughly enjoys working with people of all fitness levels and backgrounds. Besides lifting heavy things she loves to travel, drink coffee, and spend quality time with friends and family.